SM East at Lawrence High
What: Sunflower League game
When: 7 tonight
Where: Lawrence High
Records: LHS 0-3, SM East 0-3
TV: Tape delay, 10:30 p.m. on Sunflower Broadband ch. 6
With four of the first five games at home, Lawrence High’s football schedule appeared optimal for a fast start.
Not so, though. The Lions are 0-3 going into tonight’s clash with Shawnee Mission East.
Kickoff will be at 7 p.m. at the Lions’ new campus stadium. Sunflower Broadband channel 6 will carry a delayed telecast at 10:30 p.m.
“It’s been a rough three games,” senior Ben Muiller said. “We need a win. Home or away, I could care less.”
Tonight’s battle will feature two of the three winless teams in the Sunflower League — Leavenworth is the other — and the winner still has a chance to salvage its season.
Lawrence High’s 2003 team, for example, started 0-3, but won its fourth game and eventually made the playoffs, finishing with a 5-6 record.
However, the last LHS team to begin 0-4 wound up with a 4-5 record and didn’t make the playoffs. That was a dozen years ago.
The Lions’ problem has been end-zone deficiency. They have only four touchdowns in their three games, and three of those TDs have been on runs by Tyrae Jenkins.
Jenkins, a 5-foot-9, 165-pound senior, has accounted for nearly half the Lions’ total offense with 295 yards rushing and 26 yards receiving.
No telling what Jenkins’ numbers might be if the Lions’ offensive line hadn’t been riddled by injury. Still out indefinitely are projected starting linemen Jacob Weber and Jay Baker.
But there have been plenty of other injured players as well. The latest casualty is senior Dom Reiske, the starting nose guard and punt snapper who suffered a serious ankle injury in last week’s 35-7 loss to SM Northwest.
Then there is senior safety and back-up QB Chase Billings, who missed last week’s game with a neck injury, then suffered a knee injury in Wednesday’s practice that will keep him out again.
“It started with Weber before the season,” coach Dirk Wedd said, “and it’s been downhill ever since. Look at our sideline. We look like a M*A*S*H unit.”
On a positive note, the 6-2, 210-pound Muiller is returning after sitting out last week. He’ll go both ways at center and defensive tackle.
“I hated it. I hated every second of it,” Muiller said about standing on the sideline. “It killed me because these guys are my friends and my teammates.”
The Lions’ string of home games will conclude next Friday when Olathe South comes to town.
After that, Lawrence will play three straight weeks on the road — although one of those games is at Free State High — before its regular-season home finale against Leavenworth.